Thinking allowed

Are individual cups legal for communion?

Since March, the Church of England guidance issued by the bishops has stipulated that communion should be received “in one kind” only, and that the chalice, the common cup, should be withheld from all except the priest taking the service. This has been backed by legal advice that a single cup must be used, and if it is impossible to share a common cup, then the cup should be withheld.

Now a group of barristers has challenged this legal advice that it is unlawful to use separate individual cups, issuing a contrary legal opinion that the overriding priority is that communion should be administered in both kinds, and that this should allow individual cups to be used.

The Church Times reports on this story here.

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Heraldic Glass at Little Gidding

Little Gidding is a place with which I have a long association. It gave its name to TS Eliot’s last great poem and before that in the early 17th century Nicholas Ferrar and his extended family lived there in a household of prayer and work. Eliot famously described the tiny church at Little Gidding as a place where prayer has been valid, and hundreds of visitors and pilgrims come each year to experience the beauty and holiness of this quiet and peaceful place. Karen and I first visited Little Gidding when we moved to the area in 1986 and I’ve been Chair of the Friends of Little Gidding for the last decade. Another of my long-term interests is heraldry, which first drew my attention as a child at the end of the 1960s, and I have belonged to the Heraldry Society since 1974.

These two long-term interests come together in the windows of Little Gidding Church, which display the heraldry of Nicholas Ferrar, King Charles I, John Williams Bishop of Lincoln, and William Hopkinson, the 19th century landlord who restored the church. In an article on the website of the Friends of Little Gidding I describe the four windows and also investigate the coat of arms granted to Nicholas Ferrar’s father, Nicholas senior, and how this differs from the arms depicted in the window.

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